Greenbelt River Valley Connector Program Past Recipients

2019 Recipients

Bowmanville Valleys 2000 – Resilient Circle of Green Project

The Resilient Circle of Green project is a community-inspired outreach and engagement project aimed to educate the public on the ecological, cultural and economic significance of the Bowmanville Creek Valley System.  Through the development of both trail-side and digital wayfinding stations this project will engage the public in both guided and self-directed learning that will tell the story of the valley and broader Greenbelt system.  

 

City of Vaughan – Doctors Mclean Urban River Valley Outreach Project

This project supports existing City initiatives, such as the City-wide Vaughan Super Trail which proposes to create an integrated trails system throughout the City and the Great Walks of Vaughan program which encourages residents to explore the City’s trail system. The project will create greater community awareness of its trail network through an open-house event and hands-on planting activity.  The community will be educated on the importance of the Humber River Urban River Valley located within the Greenbelt Natural Heritage System.

Friends of the Rouge Watershed – Greening the Rouge Project

Through a learning-by-doing approach, this community-powered project will deepen participants’ understanding of watershed health, the Greenbelt, and our interconnectedness with these natural systems.  Decades of urban and agricultural development have put additional pressure on the carrying capacity of the Rouge River watershed. Since 1991, Friends of the Rouge Watershed has been leading hands-on restoration initiatives throughout the watershed to improve and enhance this natural feature.  This project will engage over 2000 participants in naturalization activities that will increase tree canopy cover and biodiversity to enhance viable wildlife habitat, improve water quality and off-set climate change impacts. 

Ontario Streams – Adopt-A-Stream Project

Ontario Streams is dedicated to the conservation, enhancement and rehabilitation of streams and wetlands across the GTA.  The Adopt-A-Stream program will engage participants in hands-on riparian restoration and stewardship activities at key sites within river valleys in Richmond Hill, Markham and Brampton.  Volunteers will gain broad appreciation for these natural systems by participating in native plantings, in­stream litter clean ups, installing in­stream habitat enhancement structures and biological monitoring.

 

The Riverwood Conservancy – Wings, Wildflowers and Wilderness

Riverwood Park in Mississauga is a Greenbelt-protected 150-acre oasis of wetlands, forests, creeks, and ravines on the banks of the Credit River, and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy. Through hands-on community events, the Wings, Wildflower and Wilderness Project will address the growing threats to airborne wildlife within the river valley system such as habitat loss, invasive species and climate change. The Riverwood Conservancy champions community-focused environmental stewardship of this natural area, and strives to connect people with nature. Local events will engage over 800 participants in activities such as native wildflower plantings, invasive species removals, and the construction and installation of a ‘Bee Hotel’ – the ideal habitat for a wide variety of solitary nesting bees and insects.

 

2018 Recipients

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) – The Ajax River Valley Biodiversity Project

The Duffins Creek in Ajax will be the focus of youth leadership and citizen science project that will introduce Ajax high school volunteers and their families to the biodiversity in their local Greenbelt protected river valley system. The TRCA’s Conservation Youth Corps (CYC), made up of high school volunteers, will be working alongside conservation and municipal professionals to improve parks located within the Duffins Creek ecosystem. Through intensive hands-on mentorship, the youth volunteers will build a deeper understanding of the valuable role of conservation and habitat protection in our urban areas. In addition, a series of citizen science events will provide fun, hands-on family-oriented learning experiences that will draw attention to the species that make their home in the urban river valley systems. Participants will learn proper techniques to identify and monitor species using the iNaturalist app and will contribute to long-term conservation data. The programs will help youth understand their power, ability, and agency to contribute to the future of our urban river valleys and to have a voice in local environmental decision making.

The Riverwood Conservancy – Critters and Creeks Project

Riverwood in Mississauga is a Greenbelt protected 150-acre oasis of wetlands, forests, creeks, and ravines on the bank of the Credit River and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy. The Critters and Creeks Project will be rooted in hands-on community events that address three emerging threats to MacEwan Creek and Chappell Creek and the ecosystems they support as they flow into the Credit River: non-native invasive plants, slope erosion and off trail traffic. With an abundant portfolio of community-based programming, The Riverwood Conservancy champions the environmental stewardship of this natural area and strives to meaningfully connect people to nature. Local events will engage the community in activities such as invasive species removals, restoration plantings and educational excursions that promote the link between water quality and the health of local ‘critters’ such as snakes, frogs, weasels, deer and other species. A highlight of the project will be DogFest, a day-long celebration and dog-walk-a-thon to theriver and back, to raise awareness about the importance of keeping dogs on-leash and pickingup their waste to protect water quality and wildlife in Riverwood, and beyond. 

Friends of Parkway Forest – “Be a Native Plant Guru” Project

Led by a Toronto Park Friends group, Friends of Parkway Forest Park, this series of seven workshops will connect local newcomer groups to indigenous plants that grow in their neighbourhood ravines. The Greenbelt protected ravines in North York’s densely populated Don Mills and Sheppard area are often underutilized by local residents. However, these ravines are home to many indigenous plants that are used for medicinal purposes by ethno-cultural groups that live in the area. This program will use indigenous plants as a catalyst to build an appreciation for the Greenbelt ecosystem while helping to reduce social isolation for local newcomers. Ultimately, the project will establish environmental stewards among newcomer groups in the Parkway Forest Community who can play an ongoing role in promoting the health of our local urban ecosystems.

David Suzuki Foundation- The Butterflyway Project

The Butterflyway Project will engage a network of volunteer ‘Rangers’ within the Mount Joy and Morningside Creek waterways in planting a network of 12 pollinator-friendly canoe garden installations in river valleys permanently protected by the Greenbelt. We know that about 90 percent of flowering plant species depend on pollinators. However, a recent poll revealed about two-thirds of Canadians couldn’t identify a single native bee, even though Canada has more than 800 species. These canoe garden installations will not only help build important pollinator habitat in the region, but will help to raise awareness of how protected, naturalized river systems support the health of all species, and are essential to human life.  Each of the installations will be led by dedicated Butterfly Rangers who will work collaboratively with residents, park staff (in both Markham and Toronto), schools, local groups and individuals to steward and maintain the canoe gardens.  A series of pollinator themed celebrations will highlight the essential relationship between the health of local pollinators, our food system and the importance of Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The City of Markham- Shinrin Yoku Project

The City of Markham will establish a series of trails and host guided walks that promote the therapeutic practice of Forest Bathing, or Shinrin Yoku in Japanese. These paths, along Greenbelt urban river valley protected lands, will be the first Global Institute of Forest Therapy (GIFT) designated trails in Canada. Extensive research has pointed to the health benefits of Forest Bathing. Researchers have found that city dwellers who spend time in forests have lower heart rates, lower blood pressure and lower concentrations of stress hormones. The creation of Forest Bathing trails and guided walks will provide an opportunity to connect communities to their Greenbelt protected river valleys and shine the light on the positive mental and physical health impacts of spending relaxed quality time in nature. This project will take place in four parks located in both the Rouge River and Don River watersheds in the City of Markham.

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